Why waste wine?

Put the remnants of evening festivities to good use...

Hi there,

This weekend, Quentin and I had a rollicking good time playing hosts to some out-of-towner pals (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: vaccines are amazing). On Saturday, we took them on a little trek to the Fort Greene farmer’s market, enjoyed a few hours lounging on picnic blankets in Prospect Park, and spent the evening eating way too much Thai food and drinking just a smidge too much sauvignon blanc.

Thanks to Quentin’s late-night cleaning prowess, I woke up to a mostly spotless apartment on Sunday morning. The main evidence of our evening festivities was in the fridge where, among my various condiments and leftovers from last week, I found three half empty bottles of wine. One of them had its screw top firmly in place, so it will remain potable for the next day-or-two. The other two, though, were uncorked and exposed to oxygen overnight, forgotten and forlorn, and as a result, aren’t really suitable for drinking this week.

I’m loath to let any food or beverage go to waste, and wine is no exception.

And while I’m far from a wine snob and enjoy my fair share of cheap-o vino, wine that’s been left out and exposed to the elements for more than a couple of hours is where I draw the line. It tends to go a bit sour. That said, it’s still more than adequate for cooking, and now that I have a few wine-based dishes and sauces in my rotation, finding a partially consumed and accidentally opened bottle of wine in my fridge after an evening with pals is no longer a nuisance—it’s a gift.

Here’s how:

  1. Assess the situation: bottles that were opened but resealed overnight are probably still fine to drink for the next day-or-two. But bottles left opened overnight have probably degraded to the point where you wouldn’t want to drink them as is, but for cooking purposes, are still perfectly adequate.

  2. Pour the wine into a sealable container and label and date it (date TK in my photo). As you can see, I went with a standard mason jar. If you’ve had an especially fun night and find yourself with multiple opened bottles, it’s fine to mix bottles of wine of the same ilk (reds with reds, whites with whites) in your container.

  3. Store the wine in the fridge for up to 2 months and pull it out to elevate a number of dishes. Here are a few ways to use it:

    • My recipe for Shrimp Scampi calls for broth, but I often sub in white wine.

    • The Wine Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Feta Yogurt Sauce is one of my favorite recipes from In Harmony: Autumn and it calls for a full cup of white wine.

    • Use white wine to elevate standard steamed or blanched veggies, a la this tasty looking recipe for green beans.

    • Red wine reductions make an excellent addition to salad dressings.

    • And adding wine to braising liquid (any liquid used to slow-cook veggies and/or meat)—as in this recipe for braised cabbage—is never a bad idea.


    Before I go, I have to tip my hat to our guests this weekend; Rosa pointed out that this topic would be fun to cover in today’s letter after she witnessed my decanting activities on Sunday morning. And after the letter was written, Jake crafted the witty subject line. Sure, leaving your hosts with flowers or a bottle of wine is great, but contributing to their creative endeavors is even better!

    Alright, that’s it from me this week. As always, keep me posted about how you’re faring in your kitchen. You can reply directly to this email, drop a comment below, or shoot me a DM on Instagram.

    With love and a *tip* of my chef’s hat,

    Erica

    Want more? I’m so flattered! You can also follow me on Instagram or check out my blog where you can find my tip-laden e-book collection.